What are your kids reading?

Do you know what your kids are reading?  As Christian parents we have a vested interest in knowing what our children are reading.  We all know the old adage, “Garbage in, garbage out.”  Well it holds true to the books our children read just as much as to the food they eat and the things they see and hear.  This leads us to a discussion concerning devotional reading.

Devotional reading is that spiritual discipline where we train the mind and the heart by consistently immersing ourselves and our families in the the Scriptures and strong Christian literature.  By strong, I don’t mean the easy going novels that have Christian themes, but the deep well stuff that explicitly shows us Christ and informs our worldview as believers.

Devotional reading begins with a balanced diet of the Scriptures.  In Deut. 17:19 the king of Israel is instructed to read the Law daily, with the specific purpose being to know God and revere his name.  Then, centuries later we find the story of King Josiah who reads the Law for the first time in many decades since the tablets had been lost (2Kings 23:2ff).  Would the tablets have been lost if they had been read every day?  Would the church have become so week in recent decades if its people read the Word of God regularly and routinely ad trained their families to do the same?

Feed on the Scriptures, for they testify to Christ.  Devotional reading is the slow, methodical reading of God’s Word and other deep Christian literature with an eye and an ear for applying it to our lives.  Simon Chan writes, devotional reading “presupposes the Bible as God’s Word calling us to make a decisive response” (Spiritual Theology).  That is a wonderful statement.  Are we teaching our children to read the Bible like they read Jack and Jill or See Spot run, or are we teaching them to truly read the book?

The goal of devotional reading is to be transformed by the Word of God, for it is “sharper than any double-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12).  The goal of devotional reading is to bring us to repentance at the foot of the cross.  The goal of devotional reading is to point us to Jesus, for God’s Word alone can cut through our hard hearts and make us new, by the power of the Spirit that is at work in us.

Some practical helps for reading devotionally as an individual or in training your family and extended family may be in order.

  1. Be consistent in reading at a set time each day.  Our family has found the breakfast meal to be the time when all of us are around. Some days we need another meal, but generally it is after the morning meal that we read.  Find a time that is consistent and stick with it.
  2. Stick with a book of Scripture and only after Scripture, should you add in some other things to help you chew up the implications, like a biography, or one of the puritan classics.
  3. Ask questions as you read.  What is stirring in me?  Are there places I resonate or am dissonant because of the passage and my life?  What is God teaching me r saying to me through these reactions? 
  4. Pray for God’s strength to act on the things he is revealing to you and your family
For those looking for great Christian literature to supplement their bible reading, here are some authors you might consider: Henri Nouwen, Eugene Peterson, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, John Owen, Thomas Watson, CS Lewis or any of the Puritans.

About Scott Roberts

pastor of Hope in Christ Church, Bellingham, WA
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